Fruit trees are available in containers or in bare-root form. A bare-root tree is simply one that has been pulled out of the ground in its dormant period and packed in a moist medium for shipping or storage at your nursery. Almost all of our neighbors had fruit trees in their yards—peaches, persimmons, pears, plums and sprawling fig trees were all common. Fruit growers in Central Texas endure many challenges because Central Texas orchards demand constant attention. Click here to learn more about email marketing by Emma. To find suggested cultivars for our area, as well as planting times and cross-pollination status, visit aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu. When buying container plants, pull the plant out of the container and inspect the roots before purchasing. 8b is just barely doable. Keep in mind that lemons are extremely cold-sensitive. by Laura McKissack • Photography by Carole Topalian. Not only do lemon trees produce a bounty of sour fruit, but their glossy foliage also provides ornamental benefits to the landscape. Pucker up — the Meyer lemon tree is a perfect partner. With a little effort and cultivar research, the joy of walking out into the backyard and plucking baskets of fresh fruit to share with friends and family can be yours. It’s vital to keep lawn grass, weeds and leaf litter clear of a tree in its first year, because weeds and lawn grass compete for water and nutrients. The immature lemons have green striped skin, ripening to yellow. Good tree choices for Central Texas are fig, peach, persimmon, loquat, pomegranate, plum, olive, satsuma, lemon and key lime. Your landscape is longing for a little lemon love. They are best suited to United States Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9 to 11. Many fruit trees require a certain number of these chilling hours to come out of dormancy. Citrus trees can be relatively easy and pain-free to grow in North Texas. According to Dan Rohrer, a fruit-grower in the Austin area for over 15 years, “Individual growers throughout the Hill Country all have their own methods of mitigating the effects of erratic Texas … The tree planting season in Austin runs from October through March, with the fall and winter being the best time to plant—but there is one notable exception to this rule. Edible fruit trees do not grow true from seed, but are grafted combinations of hearty rootstock and desirable fruit. Citrus trees require annual fertilization for good growth and high yields. A freeze may even kill a lemon tree. Basic requirements for fruit trees include deep soil, adequate water and space, and the proper number of chilling hours (the number of hours where the temperature is above 32 degrees and below 45 degrees). Citrus trees are best planted in the late spring after the weather has warmed up and there is no danger of frost. Buddha’s Hand Citron is a shrubby grower, producing 6”-12” fruits that resemble a human hand. As a general rule, Limes and lemons (except Meyer lemon) are the least cold hardy (they need the most winter protection), followed by pummelo, grapefruit and orange. There are few pest and disease pressures that affect citrus in this part of the country, plus birds and squirrels don’t favor the fruit, which is very rare! To subscribe to our newsletter click on the link below, so you won't miss a single delicious detail. The Joy of Growing Citrus in North Texas by Mary Karish. Copyright © Edible Austin LLC. 2016. While there are many varieties to choose from, I’ve had the most success with Meyer lemon. They thrive in coastal areas where the summers stay somewhat cool, but some types, such as the Meyer lemon, will do well in warmer areas as well. 'Arctic Frost' and 'Orange Frost' Satsumas are the most cold hard of the citrus, but other mandarins & kumquats are very tough and can also grow outside in Austin. Young trees require steady moisture, and the best way to determine soil moisture is to use a moisture sensor, available at any garden center. The biggest concern with citrus trees in our area is keeping them warm enough in the winter. All rights reserved. Nobody ever said gardening in Central Texas was going to be easy. Spring time is the right time for citrus in Austin. Some fruit trees require multiple plants nearby in order to pollinate. Planting: Citrus trees prefer well drained slightly acidic soils but will tolerate a soil pH range of 6 to 8. The answer: absolutely! So, if San Antonio or Austin is “central Texas.” you might be in luck. These trees are frost tender in Central Texas and are best grown in a container. A lot of people wonder whether we can grow citrus trees in central Texas and whether they’ll be fruitful. Many of my favorite childhood memories involve the dewberries gathered around the lake where my cousins and I swam, the little crunchy pears from the trees growing in an empty lot near my house and the warm figs from the trees in my great-grandmother’s half-acre kitchen garden. In late January or early February, apply 1 to 1-1/2 pound of 13-13-13, 8-8-8, 8-12-8 or 6-12-6 per year of tree age up to 12 years. “[The trees] are producing fruit for the next generation, and will produce as much as possible—putting all of their energy into it.” Thinning the fruit prevents carbohydrate drain and leads to higher-quality fruit and a healthier tree. Good tree choices for Central Texas are fig, peach, persimmon, loquat, pomegranate, plum, olive, satsuma, lemon and key lime. If your garden is organic, it’s best to simply watch the tree for trouble and treat as needed, advises Daphne Richards of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Citrus need at least six hours of direct sun during the growing season, from March through August. A winter with one or more freezes will damage the fruits and possibly even the wood of lemon trees. Citrus Growing in Central Texas. But if you choose the right species and pay attention to planting specifications, certain types will flourish with little maintenance. I was really excited about all the possibilities that could be grown in Texas. ... Citrus trees available for consumer purchase are typically sold in 3 to 5 gallon containers. It’s also a good idea, if room is available, to plant multiple cultivars of the same fruit to ensure a good harvest—some may do better than others in your particular area and some fruit tree varieties are easier to care for than others. If the roots are thick and tightly wound within the container, choose a different plant; this is a sign that the plant has been in the container too long and has become “root-bound”—a condition that will make it difficult for the plant to spread out its roots properly when planted in the ground. As others have said, I think Meyer lemons will be your best (only) choice.